Cyprus’ treatment of asylum seekers and pushbacks were included in a number of significant human rights issues in the latest US Department of State report published on Tuesday, which included corruption concerns and a slew of abuses.

The 2023 report also addressed ongoing investigations surrounding money laundering and ‘golden passports’, highlighting the human rights situation had not significantly changed in Cyprus.

Prisons were found to be grossly overcrowded with abusive physical conditions and antiquated facilities.

The prison’s capacity was 620 but the maximum number of inmates held during the year was 1,030.

“Many cells lacked sanitary facilities, and access to toilets was difficult at night. As a result, prisoners sometimes used plastic containers to urinate.”

Most of the concerns surrounded mistreatment of refugees and asylum seekers, with an increase in violent attacks against them. The report flagged pushbacks as well as “refoulement of asylum seekers to a country where they would face torture or persecution.”

Stakeholders have reported “difficulty in cooperating with the ROC government to provide protection and assistance to refugees and asylum seekers,” it added.

Meanwhile, the report cited several incidents of physical attacks by local young men against migrants and asylum seekers including those working in food delivery.

The violence which unfolded in Chlorakas was also mentioned, where “250 mostly hooded and masked individuals physically attacked migrants and refugees in the streets and in their homes, including women and children, causing extensive damage to their properties.”

Additionally, the racist protests in Limassol were addressed where “ROC authorities acknowledged police response was slow and inadequate and failed to prevent the escalation of violence.”

The report also referred to the “lack of sufficient protections for irregular migrants and the lack of a comprehensive system to monitor hate speech, which the report found was widespread in public discourse.”

Discrimination of the Roma community in housing, employment, education, access to public services and health care, and social protection was also included.

Rural areas in Cyprus still posed a threat for potential violence against LGBTQI+ persons, the report said, however there was an improved police response.

There was also special mention of Kisa NGO, for which the report cited “substantial interference with freedom of association.”


Where corruption is concerned, the report highlighted Cyprus’ government “took steps to identify and punish officials who may have committed human rights abuses, although there were limited cases of impunity.”

It underlined investigations and prosecutions were underway against public officials and private entities “suspected of assisting individuals with criminal backgrounds to acquire citizenship or bypass anti money-laundering safeguards”.

In May the government hired two British anti-corruption experts to assist with an investigation involving former and sitting high-ranking government officials because local experts were reluctant to participate.

The report also mentioned investigative journalist Makarios Drousiotis who reported Cyprus’ authorities monitored his communications and employed intimidating tactics after he published a series of books exposing corruption in the government.